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A new generation

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If your kids like to act, move, create, or just play, there's a good chance they'd like the summer PUSH Pins Performing Arts Camp. PUSH Pins is the children's division of PUSH Physical Theatre, the award-winning Rochester-based company that combines mime, acrobatics, and modern dance on stage.

During the school year, PUSH Pins is busy in schools, putting on shows and holding workshops for students in grades pre-k through middle school. During the summer, it's the PUSH Pins camp, organized and led by Heather Stevenson who, together with her husband, Darren, founded PUSH.

PUSH Pins Performing Arts Camp will run from July 10 to July 14 in Pittsford for children entering kindergarten through age 14. For more information on enrollment checkout pushpinsforkids.org.

"My passion in theater and life is children," Stevenson says. "In the camp, the children experience theater and dance exercises that teach us about life. The kids are building social skills, strength, empathy, and courage. We help children to nonverbally tell their own stories. A lot of things children cannot say, but they can move it. Our first goal is to build trust immediately. We have to build the understanding that there is no wrong answer."

Each day of the one-week camp begins with an assembly led by a different PUSH member so that the kids are exposed to varying movement styles. The program includes small group classes in mime, modern dance, physical theatre, balloon sculpting, and parkour.

"We're trying to cross as many art forms as we can," Stevenson says. For example, physical science comes to life when the children turn themselves into simple machines through movement — a far cry from only reading about them.

On Friday, June 9, to Sunday, June 11, at Blackfriars Theatre, the PUSH Pins crew will premiere its first show created especially for children. "Busy Bodies" is a physical comedy based on the confusion of compound words — think "firefly," "hotdog," and "birdbrain" relayed through movement and expression but using few spoken words.

"In charades, we have fun guessing. In physical theatre, we want to know right away," Stevenson says. "In charades, the action is the goal. In physical theatre, the story is the goal. The actions are there to provide text for the story."

The show, created by five performers from PUSH, is billed as encouraging joy in learning and humor in misunderstanding. Performances are Friday, June 9, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 10 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, June 11, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for students and children.

Busy Body Workshops, for ages 4 through 12, will be held in conjunction with the show, and will give children the chance to have fun while exercising and flexing their imaginations as they learn how to enhance storytelling with gesture. The workshops will be led by both Heather and Darren Stevenson. Those take place Saturday, June 10, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 4 through 12, and Sunday, June 11, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for ages 7 and up. Space is limited to 25 children a workshop and the cost is $10 if pre-registered, $12 at the door.

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